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Political reforms in the pipeline in Vietnam?

Updated On: Feb 28, 2006

On Saturday, Vietnam concluded the 8th meeting of the full-time National Assembly members.

The members had discussed 11 draft laws to be submitted for the coming 9th National Assembly session. National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Van An urged full-time National Assembly deputies to actively encourage local National Assembly delegations to give opinion on the 11 draft laws.

One of the draft laws would require a confidence vote to be held on the continuation of senior officials elected by the National Assembly. Those who do not receive more than 50% of the votes are likely to be dismissed.

Another potentially significant change is to allow the National Assembly Standing Committee to call for a confidence votes once a petition is received from 5% of the deputies instead of the present 20%. Currently, it is difficult to obtain the quorum, resulting in difficulty in discussion of the various graft and corruption cases in the Assembly.

The number of National Assembly Committees will also increase from seven to nine under the provisions of the draft Law on the Organisation of the National Assembly. National Assembly Office director Bui Ngoc Thanh proposed that the existing Economy and Budget Committee be split into two separate committees and a new Judiciary Committee be formed to handle issues removed from the scope of the Law Committee.

These reforms of the National Assembly are part of a wider move towards allowing greater political liberty in the country. In June 2005, the Vietnamese government issued a White Paper on Human Rights, emphasising the constitutional guarantees (including freedom of speech, religion and association).

Separately, the Communist Party has also been obtaining feedback from different segments of the population on the political report that will be discussed at the coming 10th Communist Party Congress. Associate Professor Colonel Nguyen Manh Huong noted, in an article run by the Quan doi Nhan dan (People’s Army) daily on 14 February, the petitions and complaints on the lack of democracy, rising economic disputes and increasing private land use have caused citizens in some localities to lose confidence in the party organisations and authorities. He urged for regulations to allow people to recommend and dismiss officials.

All these seem to be promising signs for the liberalisation of the political climate in Vietnamwhich is emerging as a new “Asian tiger” economically. What is needed now is ensuring that these laws are not only passed at the National Assembly but effectively implemented at the local levels.

Sources:

Vietnam May Soon Emerge from Underdevelopment [sic] Status, Says Indian Editor, Thai Press Reports, 27 February 2006

Full-time National Assembly Deputies Conclude 8th MeetingVietnamNews Agency, 26 February 2006

Ha Noi’s Young Intellectuals speak on draft Party Political Party Report, Vietnam News Agency, 26 February 2005

House Wants Biennial Vote to Confirm Faith in Elected Officials, Thanh Nien News, 25 February 2006          

National Assembly Deputies Discuss Draft Legal Aid LawVietnamNews Agency, 25 February 2006

Vietnam Creating Opportunities For People to Develop Democracy, Thai Press Reports, 22 February 2006